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Update: welfare

Gareth Mitchell considers two Court of Appeal cases on the definition of a ‘looked after’ child, and inter-authority disputes on responsibility for providing adult social care

1 August 2011

When is a child ‘looked after’?

A ‘child in need’ becomes a ‘looked after’ child if they are accommodated by social services under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, or if they are taken into care. In most circumstances, a child who is looked after when aged 16 or 17 will become entitled to ongoing assistance from social services once he or she turns 18, i.e. under the leaving care provisions in section 23C of the Children Act 1989.

Two recent Court of Appeal decisions have focused on unsuccessful attempts by local authorities to avoid these leaving care duties by arguing that children had not been looked after. In each case, the authorities sought to argue that the accommodation which had been provided to the child had been provided not by social services under the Children Act, but by another department and under a different statutory scheme.

R (RO) v East Riding of Yorkshire Council [2011] EWCA 196 focused on the interaction betw...

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